Zendejas’ Field Goal in the Overtime Gives Houston a Win, 23-20
The best and worst times of Tony Zendejas’ NFL career came only about 10 minutes apart Sunday. It couldn’t have seemed longer.
Zendejas missed a 29-yard field goal with 1:47 to play in regulation time, but he kicked a 42-yarder with 6:55 left in overtime, giving the Houston Oilers a 23-20 victory over Seattle.
“That was my worst kick and the best kick in my career,” Zendejas said. “I was too anxious to look to see, and I yanked up my head too soon” on the 29-yarder.
After missing the kick, Zendejas returned to the sideline, hoping he’d get another chance.
“Everyone would have blamed me if we lost, and I would have blamed myself,” said Zendejas, who already had field goals of 47 and 49 yards. “I felt like I let the whole team down. We could have lost the game, and I felt pretty bad right there.”
The victory advanced the Oilers to the next round of the playoffs against the Broncos in Denver on Sunday.
Warren Moon hit Willie Drewrey with a 29-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter for a 20-13 lead.
After the Oilers relinquished possession on Zendejas’ missed field goal, the Seahawks went 88 yards to tie it with 26 seconds left on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Dave Krieg to Steve Largent. It was the second scoring connection of the game between the two.
The Seahawks won the overtime toss but were forced to punt, giving the Oilers another chance at victory. Oiler Coach Jerry Glanville knew exactly what he wanted to do.
“I said if we get the ball in overtime, we’re throwing it,” Glanville said. “We threw the first two routes we put in when I became head coach.”
Houston got a break on its winning drive when, on first down from the Oilers 37, Moon appeared to have thrown an interception that was tipped by Seattle’s Jeff Bryant and snagged near the ground by linebacker Fredd Young. Officials, however, ruled the ball was trapped and later upheld the call on instant replay.
“I caught the ball,” Young said. “There was nothing I could do but catch it. I did, with both hands on it. There was no question.”
Glanville was in a forgiving mood after Zendejas kicked the game winner.
“He’s the best kicker in pro football,” Glanville said. “It could have been easier if Tony had made the kick down there, but we won and we’re two games away from the Super Bowl.”
Seattle Coach Chuck Knox said the Oilers performed in overtime and the Seahawks did not.
“When we got the ball we couldn’t control it,” Knox said. “They got it and they moved. The time of possession had to be in their favor. But give us credit. We came back and forced the overtime.”
But Largent said the Seahawks were fortunate just to get to overtime.
“They seemed to play a little softer when we moved the ball,” he said. “They are a good defensive football team. Our game plan was the same, but we had to go to pass later and had success.”
After Seattle’s overtime punt, Houston took over at its 15. Moon, who passed for 273 yards, completed passes of 11 yards to Alonzo Highsmith and Ray Wallace prior to the controversial call. Moon then hit a 15-yarder to Drew Hill to the Seattle 41, and Mike Rozier had runs of 9, 2 and 7 yards to the Seattle 23.
Two plays and a 5-yard penalty against Houston put the Oilers at the 24, and Zendejas kicked the winning field goal.
Krieg threw his second touchdown pass of the game to Largent with 26 seconds left, capping an 88-yard drive that began after Zendejas was wide left on the 29-yarder. Prior to the miss, Zendejas was 8-of-8 inside the 30.
Krieg also had passes of 10 and 24 yards to Largent in the drive, and he hit Ray Butler with a 32-yarder to the Houston 12 with 31 seconds left to set up the tying touchdown.
Moon hit Willie Drewrey with a 29-yard touchdown pass that put Houston ahead with 2:34 to go. Drewrey, a third-year player, ran under Moon’s third-down pass in the end zone, breaking a 13-13 tie with his first NFL touchdown.
The Seahawks, playing without injured running back Curt Warner, the AFC’s No. 2 rusher, reached Houston’s 15- and 23-yard lines but had to settle for field goals of 33 yards in the second quarter and 41 yards in the third by Norm Johnson. Seattle was held to 29 yards rushing for the game.
Mike Rozier reversed field and scored on a diving 1-yard touchdown plunge, and Zendejas kicked two field goals to give the Oilers a 13-10 halftime lead.
Seattle’s Melvin Jenkins returned an interception 28 yards to set up a 20-yard touchdown pass from Krieg to Largent on the game’s first series, and Johnson kicked a 33-yard second-quarter field goal following a 54-yard punt return by Bobby Joe Edmonds.
Johnson’s second field goal tied the score with 8:23 to go in the third quarter, but Moon put the Oilers back on top with the touchdown pass to Drewrey.
Moon completed 21 of 32 passes with one interception. Krieg was 16-of-38 for 237 yards, and Largent caught seven passes for 132 yards.
John L. Williams was Seattle’s leading rusher, gaining just 27 yards on seven carries.
On his first-quarter touchdown, Rozier started to his left, then slipped away from David Hollis and ran to the opposite side of the field, diving into the end zone over Bruce Scholtz.
The Oilers’ go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter came on third-and-14. Drewrey got behind cornerback Melvin Jenkins in the end zone.
Jenkins, starting his second game of the season for injured Terry Taylor, intercepted Moon’s first pass of the day and returned it to the Seattle 46.
Krieg hit Largent with a 33-yard pass to the Oiler 20 and on the next play, Largent caught a flat pass and ran into the end zone behind a block by tackle Tom Mattes.
Houston took the lead on Zendejas’ 47-yarder and Rozier’s zig-zag run and could have gone ahead 16-10 at the half, but Zendejas’ 52-yard attempt bounced off the right upright at the gun.